Dealing With Anxiety After Divorce

It happened suddenly when I was walking my dog - my heart raced painfully in my chest, I felt faint, and I struggled to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack.

  • Surge of overwhelming panic
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Trembling and shaking
I ran to my doctor, who diagnosed an anxiety attack. He put me on Lexapro, which I took for 3 months. Friends told me that I appeared lethargic and not myself. Some friends, who had heretofore been put of by my forceful personality, found me "more pleasing."

More pleasing? Hell no! I had a reputation for being feisty, thankyouverymuch.

As soon as I felt that I could deal with the consequences of the end of my marriage, I weened myself off the drug. Instead, I found other more natural ways to deal with my worries:
  1. Forging new friendships
  2. Regular Exercise
  3. Pursuing new hobbies
  4. Gardening
  5. Immersing myself in meaningful work
  6. Helping others and rescuing a dog
  7. Counseling and support groups
  8. Self-help books
Since that initial episode I've experienced other manifestations of anxiety in the form of asthma attacks, hives, and eczema. Knowledge is a powerful healing tool. Each time I exhibited a new symptom, I looked up its cause and dealt with the problem naturally.

Exercise, diets, and friendships are powerful deterrents to the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety. I recommend these natural prescriptions over those dealt out by well-meaning medicine men, for natural means, while also addictive, work better than artificial, mind-numbing drugs.


Life After Divorce: Living in the Moment

I recently wrote a post about my fear for the future and my old age. One way that I combat my anxiety is to concentrate on the present - the beauty of the sunset, a peaceful morning, success in completing my projects, and enjoyment of the book I am reading.

I look to my dog for guidance. He is happy when he is fed or simply near me, and looks anxious when he is confused or lost. Once he deals with his immediate problems, he is at peace again, for he lives in the moment. I wish I could just simply ... be, like Cody.

Fear of the future and dwelling on past mistakes are powerful deterrents to happiness. I struggle every day to find my balance, reduce my anxiety, and find a sense of contentment. There are days when I am able to let go. That's when I enjoy life the most.


Divorce Party Invitation

Now here's something to wrap your mind around: divorce party invitations. As this blog states:
Most divorce parties are held when a couple is finally independent of one another, in other words, when the divorce is finalized. An alimony party may be held a year or so after the divorce, when the one party is no longer paying alimony to their past spouse. Most divorce/alimony parties are centered around the divorcee and are filled with cocktails, great food and good times, be it at a club or a back yard barbecue with friends…it’s like a backwards bachelorette party, celebrating the person’s newfound single territory!
A sign of the times? As one niece once told me, "My first marriage will be for practice."


How Long Does is Take to Recover from Divorce?

I recall my lawyer and counselor telling me that it would take five years to recover from divorce. "FIVE YEARS?!" I screeched. That seemed like a lifetime. In a sense they were right. It took 2 years to emerge from my shell and craft a new life, and another 3 years before I felt like myself again. I emerged as a new person with a new lifestyle, new friends, and new goals. This process took much reflection and time.

Each person recovers according to their own time line. It is important to feel the pain, however, and to reflect on the part you played in the ending of your marriage.

One thing I learned: Although I went kicking and screaming into the divorce, I emerged a stronger person. I had a more realistic sense of who I was and what I was capable of doing. There was one other important point I realized: If Bob ever asked to return, I would not in a million years take him back, for I have moved on.


Facing My Future as An Older, Divorced Worker

I've reached a point in my life where all I want is some distance from emotional turmoil and financial want, but as a single, divorced, and childless person who has entered her 60s I am confronted with so many new issues, that at times I am almost paralyzed with fear and indecision.

In my 20's I used to sing the Beatles' "When I'm 64" to my young husband:
"Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I'm 64?"
Need me, feed me, indeed. Those words have come to haunt me this past decade, for it is clear that I have become my own nurturer and will be my sole source of support as I enter my golden years. My savings have been eroded by our nation's terrible economic downturn, and the nest egg I had saved has been reduced substantially.

I had a serious discussion recently with my geriatric parents about my fears for the future. They are still married and living in an addition built onto my brothers' house. My brother, bless his generous heart, looks after them daily. He is still married, surrounded in the same city by his three children, their spouses, and their families. His plans for his old age are solid and he is certain that he will bask in the support of his children and their offspring. My parents bask in my brothers' support and mine.

But what about me?

As I reminded my parents, I am childless and live in a distant city. Oh, I am not complaining, for it is the reality of my life and a consequence of the decisions I made. While I am loved by my nieces and nephew, they would probably not put themselves out for their auntie as much as for their parents. That's just the way it is.

When it comes time for me to retire, sell my house, and move into assisted living, I will largely be alone. Most of my single friends will also be facing the same situation. The prospect of losing control of my life as I age fills me with dread and a great deal of uncertainty.

Many of us who have been through divorce in our mature years are faced with a future that we had not planned on. I was optimistic in my youth, thinking that I would travel extensively with my husband in our retirement and reap the benefits of our hard work. Instead, I was forced to embark on a serious career in my 50s. While my ex has retired with his new wife, I am still working 9-5.

While I am able to compete intellectually with my young co-workers, it has been at great physical and emotional expense. It takes me all weekend to recover from my high-stress job. I no longer party on Friday and Saturday nights, but choose to nurture myself on Saturday and Sundays, taking frequent naps and resting.

There are times when I simply can't envision my future. The thought of being alone in my 70's without sufficient retirement funds is too much contemplate.


Supporting Someone Going Through Divorce

Have you landed on this blog because you are looking for ways to help a friend or relative who is going through a divorce? Here's what helped me:

  • 100% acceptance - give your friend a safe non-judgmental environment to vent. But don't participate in the blame game. That only makes things worse.
  • Be someone who understands that your friend's pain is real - do not bring up individuals who have had it worse, like widows or burn victims, or say "at least you have your children", or "thank goodness you don't have children," or "you have your looks and health, you will find someone soon again." Those phrases diminish the real pain that your friend is experiencing at that moment.
  • Promise secrecy - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Private matters that have been disclosed to you should not be shared with others, not even your spouse.
  • Provide your friend with a shoulder to cry on - let them talk; sometimes that is all they need, but place a time limit on their pity pot talk. Change the subject if your friend starts to rehash familiar territory. They need to grieve first and then let their anger out, but it is not good for them to mull over the same set of offenses over and over again.
  • Give them hugs - remember that someone going through divorce has lost physical contact with their life's mate, and that hugs are better than medicine.
  • Provide your friend with your logic and ability to think straight - depression affects the brain. Remember, your friend is filled with anxiety and there are times when he or she can't plan strategically at all. Refer your friend to experts and self-help groups, or help them sort through the myriad of bewildering topics they will need to address - lawyers, realtors, job searches.
  • Include your friend in fun outings and invite them to parties and events - even if they don't feel like going. This especially holds true for women, who are often dumped from the party circuit for reasons that are mystifying.
  • Keep in touch with regular calls, text messages, and via Facebook, Twitter, and cards - your friend may not respond, but these evidences of caring help. They'll come round and respond eventually.
  • Be an honest friend - this takes diplomacy, but if you see self-destructive behavior, have the courage to step in and stop it.
  • Give them a way to pay you back - your friend will feel such a sense of gratitude for your support that they will want to thank you in a significant way. Let them, or ask them to pay it forward.
  • Drive them or their children - many separated people are unable to share the load of driving, which becomes evident as time passes. Offer to drive when you go on a shared outing, or to take their children to their events. It's the little details that count and provide relief.
Do you have other tips on how to help a friend going through divorce or separation? Please leave a comment!


Why Brad Pitt's Comments About His Marriage to Jennifer Aniston Are Crass

During and after a divorce, the less said about one's former spouse the better. I am sure that at this point Brad Pitt would agree with me and wished that he had taken the high road when it came to commenting on his relationship with his ex.

Ever since my divorce I've acquired two new habits that I can't seem to shake: I can no longer watch Divorce Court, yet at the same time I am eerily attracted to articles about divorced couples, especially celebrities. Tom Cruise left Nicole Kidman around the time that my husband deserted our marriage, and thus I probably know as many details about their split as were printed in the press. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston separated at the same time that my post-divorce relationship broke up. My guy left me for someone else, and thus I felt great empathy for Aniston.

Since their divorce neither Cruise, Kidman, nor Aniston have had much to say about their defunct marriages and rightly so. What went on in their private lives is really none of our business. Somehow Pitt and Jolie have felt no such restraint, prompting Aniston to say at one point that a sensitivity chip was missing.

In July 2005, before his divorce to Aniston was finalized the following October, Pitt was photographed with Jolie for a glossy magazine spread for W magazine as an ideal couple in Domestic Bliss. (See image.) They were seen spartling on a South African beach with her adopted children even as they denied having an affair. A few years later, Jolie was quoted as saying that she felt great joy knowing that her children would someday learn that their parents fell in love while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith (debunking her own denial about breaking up Pitt's and Aniston's marriage).

Recently Pitt made public statements about how boring his life was during his marriage to Aniston, and how he's found fulfillment with Jolie. Aniston has wisely not responded, but the public outcry on her behalf forced Pitt to backtrack and explain that he considered himself boring at the time, not Aniston.

I find it fascinating that these two lovers, whose lives are presumably filled with children and new found happiness, still find it necessary to make comments about an event that occurred in their lives seven years ago. The lesson, if Pitt and Jolie are willing to learn it, is to simply keep their mouths shut and move on.

In my own life I have discovered that the less I say about my marriage or divorce, the more comfortable people are around me. If someone asks a question, I will answer it without revealing personal details that are no one's business but my ex's and my own. The moment I step over that boundary (and I have at times, I am human after all) I can sense a change in my listeners. They feel either uncomfortable or titillated, neither of which are good reactions.

It is hard for friends to remain neutral and give good advice if they are told all the sordid details of a broken relationship. Usually such information is one-sided and slanted towards making the teller seem sympathetic. The listener can commiserate only so long before beating a hasty retreat, for even the best of friends becomes tired of hearing the same rehashed story over and over. Most of us know that the truth lies somewhere in-between, and while we want to help our friends through rough times, this can only be accomplished by respecting the boundaries of love and friendship.

That Pitt was willing to step over those boundaries and reveal such highly personal information to strangers for the sake of publicity was absolutely wrong.


Tips on Dating as a Senior

Tips on Dating as a Senior is an article written by guest writer, Allison Gamble:

Divorced seniors often find themselves overwhelmed when they attempt to reintegrate themselves into the dating world. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that dating can be challenging in and of itself, but if you are older and newly single, it may seem as though there are numerous obstacles to overcome. Some seniors may become so frustrated at the dating process that they may give up or avoid dating altogether. An open mind and the adherence to a few simple guidelines can help mean the difference between dating frustration and success.

As the saying goes, a first impression is always a lasting impression. Your initial chitchat can mean the difference between a second date or an early departure.

First date dialogue that contains hours of criticism or reminiscence about relationships past is an indicator that you are not ready to move on to a different relationship. It is important to give anyone that you are dating a fair chance for a trusting relationship. If you find yourself unable to trust anyone, you may want to do some evaluation and try to understand why. If you are unable to make adjustments to allow yourself to love and trust again, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you get over the hurt and pain from your prior relationship, make you stronger and enable you to start anew.

If you are newly divorced, avoid jumping into a serious relationship too soon, or giving the impression of it during your first date conversation. It's easy to scare someone off by moving forward too quickly. Furthermore, a relationship on the rebound is almost never successful in the end, and you could ruin your chances of long-term success. Allow yourself adequate time to heal before jumping back into the dating pool in order to ensure that you are emotionally ready and available to begin a new relationship. Make sure that you have truly let your old relationship go, and that you are now ready and able to start anew. This will create the best chances for success and help ensure an enjoyable first date.

Maintain your expectations. It is not uncommon to envision perfection, particularly when reentering the dating world after a divorce or the death of your spouse. Always bear in mind that searching for perfection will leave you lonely and frustrated – nobody’s perfect. It might be helpful to create a small wish list of traits that are important to have in a mate, as well as those that are incompatible with your lifestyle. However, interrogating someone on the first date to see if they meet your criteria is a no-no. Allow the conversation to flow naturally, and take your time getting to know someone.

According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, online dating has become an extremely popular option for seniors, but can be risky . Online dating is a great way to meet a variety of new and interesting people; you can weed out suitors with whom you share common interests, who look interesting or attractive, and it’s a low-pressure way to dip your toes back into the dating world since you don’t have to worry about face-to-face rejection.

But the Internet also comes with its own share of pitfalls. Internet safety should be carefully observed during any online Internet interactions. Use caution prior to meeting someone that you have met on the Internet so that your safety is not compromised during your meeting. It can be too easy to reveal too much private information about yourself, which could compromise your safety. Disclose information slowly as you gain trust in the person you are chatting with, especially during an initial conversation.

If you have a special hobby or interest that you enjoy, you may want to consider joining some type of group or hobby club in order to give you the opportunity to find someone who shares common interests. Whether it's dancing, bingo or museums that tickle your fancy, associating yourself with the right group will increase the odds that you will find someone compatible. Finding someone who has similar interests can help create a foundation for first date bonding that can easily be expanded into something more. If you don't have any hobbies, consider trying something new to help occupy your time and give you the opportunity to meet new people. Often, just being able to leave the house and socialize can be one of the most challenging aspects of dating, no matter the age.

Try not to be afraid to venture out into the murky waters of dating. You already have the life experience that you need to know what makes you happy and what you enjoy. Use this wisdom to your advantage while playing the dating game and choosing a partner. Your life experience and knowledge make you rich, and will benefit you in the long run, so sit back, relax and enjoy the many pleasures that come with your new availability.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing. http://www.psychologydegree.net/


The Psycho Ex Wife: It's Really About Letting Go

Two blogs, two responses to the aftermath of divorce: one is entitled The Psycho Ex Wife, the other is named Divorced at Fifty. Guess which blogger has been able to largely move on? Me.

I learned about The Psycho Ex Wife, a blog begun in 2007 by Anthony Morelli (right) and his new partner, a woman named Misty Weaver Ostinato, only after it was shut down. The blog's tagline was: "The true account of a marriage, divorce, and subsequent (child) custody fight between a loving man, his terroristic ex-wife who we suspect suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (at least from our armchair psychologist diagnosis), and the husband's new partner."

Unsurprisingly, a judge ordered the blog to be shut down for outright cruelty. Some of Morelli's descriptions of his ex-wife (right), the mother of his two children, include such choice terms as ‘Jabba the Hut’ and a 'black-out drunk'.

Morelli's blog, which also featured discussion groups, was so popular that it attracted 200,000 followers per month. One person who wasn't a fan was his former wife. Apparently Anthony's (and his partner's) continuing and ongoing anger centered around child custody issues. Both natural parents shared joint custody, which in a sensible and sane world seems to be a logical arrangement. But Anthony was not only unhappy, he needed a place to vent, and thus he started his blog. He tried to hide his identity and that of his ex-wife, but unfortunately his kids discovered what their father was doing and asked him to stop.

At the judgment, Judge Diane Gibbons said: "Your children are being hurt because you are bad mouthing the woman they love in public," she said. "Should I put them with the man who is publicly browbeating their mother?" (New York Daily News) Good question. The former Mrs. Morelli heaved a sigh of relief after the hearing, saying ‘What the judge said in court made perfect sense to me. Stop doing what you're doing, and do the right thing for your children’ (Daily Mail)

Anthony's response was to fight the decision on the basis of first amendment rights. Here is the link to the blog today, which has changed its focus to freedom of speech (He is soliciting donations for his court battle.)

I hate to say this, Anthony, but the issue really isn't about First Amendment Rights, it's about letting go of your anger and being a good parent. As a blogger, I understand the need for self expression and that we have the constitutional right to do so. How you go about this is another thing. While Anthony's blog feeds his dissatisfaction and stokes his anger, my blog serves to heal me.

I began my blog a year before Anthony, and found to my delight and amazement that as I wrote about my feelings about divorce, loneliness, and separation, that I was able to let go of much of my sadness, anger, fear, and grief. Oh, there were times when I was tempted to write a truly nasty post about my ex, who I felt was playing games with me, but what would have been the point? How would such posts have helped me to let go and move on?

Anthony needs to answer this question: What's more important - his right to say what he wants when he wants to, or his role as a parent? If his need to express his anger is truly more important than his children's well-being and their desire that he stop hurting their mother in public, then the judge made a good point: why should she place the children with a man who is willing to browbeat their mother in public?

As for his claim that he was giving others with custody issues a forum for discussion, I say that he had a choice to take the high road, one that his children could have been proud of. The biggest gift my divorced mother gave me, a child who always hungered for her father, was not to say one negative thing about him as I was growing up. (As an adult I found out for myself what sort of a man he was, but my mother did nothing to influence those conclusions until I approached her at 19 and began to ask questions, for his behavior confused me. Thank you, Mom.)

Divorce is tough enough on kids without the parents making things worse and using them as pawns or as an excuse to keep their fight going. It seems that Anthony's post-divorce battle with his ex has lasted almost as long as the marriage itself. It's time that he concentrate his immense energies somewhere else - on his children, for instance, and making their happiness his number one priority.

Read More Here:


Loss of Status After Divorce: Or the New Invisibles

Ladies in Lavender Image@Having a Solid Gold Life
A book club friend and I met recently and discussed her recent divorce. (She's my age and was married for 25 years to my 26.)

Sherry (not her name) mentioned that the transition went smoothly. She and her husband knew that they would be divorcing for a number of years, about 4 or 5, but they stayed together for the sake of the children, who were about to graduate from high school and enter college.

He made more than a comfortable living. In fact, their 2-story house was more 6,000 sq ft.and a bargain compared to their digs in New England.

He earned most of the money.

But she was a computer programmer, or coder, and could find a job whenever she needed one. Still, her salary was worth a quarter of his.

Flash forward...

He found a new love and a new life, and she moved out of the house after his insistence that they sell it for its equity. Most of their fabulous furniture would have to go (I bought a beautiful Sheraton sideboard).

He continued living a lavish lifestyle with his Tootsie. She moved into a 2-bedroom, 925 sq foot apartment - alone and happy as a clam.

My opinion of her rose when she entertained us in her much reduced circumstances, uncomplaining and making the most of her new life. She seemed to blossom, losing weight and laughing more than I had ever seen her laugh.

We met several weeks ago over dinner and drinks. After a long, honest conversation,  the one thing that Sherry regretted was her loss of social status. I agreed with her assessment. We were the new invisibles. No one, not our old couples friends or the men our age that we encountered, noticed us much any more.

Here we were, two women of a certain age cast upon the job market in our fifties, having to fend for ourselves, yet rising to the top of our respective professions. We had made it despite the odds! We were paying our bills, our mortgages, adding our own money to our pensions, and pursuing our passions as far as our jobs and personal preferences were concerned.


We both agreed that one of the hardest changes we faced was our loss of social status as wives who had entertained a large cadre of married and professional friends.

We had become invisible to society at large - rarely invited to couples parties or weekends away at a lake house with a group, and no longer noticed by men our age. At best, for me, I was invited to womens' luncheon during the week when I worked, which meant that I had to leave the gathering early.We were regarded as non-entities when we did receive the rare invitation to social events with both men and women, finding ourselves seated with other single ladies.

As married hostesses we both had invited single women and single men to our homes to fill in the odd chair at the dining table or attend our barbecues and picnics and mingle, mingle, MINGLE! I took it as a point of pride to make no distinction between couples or singles when I made up my guest lists. After my divorce, I discovered that my married friends were not equally inclined. As one coolly honest "friend" said to me, "It isn't personal, really, but you are a reminder of how fragile marriages can be. Besides, you've made new friends, haven't you?" Color her clueless.

During our most recent outing on a Friday night after work, Sherry and I again commiserated on our loss of social status and largely female lives, but since we were enjoying ourselves and each others' company, we exclaimed, "What the hell!" We clinked our glasses and confirmed our love for each others' company and independent lives, determined not  to dwell too much on the loss of our old couples' friends and our once active social lives.

When I hear music wafting into my yard from a young neighbor's couples party, I still feel an occasional twinge. But not as often as I used to.

More on the topic:


Ryan Reynolds on Divorce

Ryan Reynolds is the successful young actor who was married to Scarlett Johannsen for two years before they divorced. While his face is well known, he keeps his private life quiet. So, it was with some surprise that he opened up as much as he did in this statement:
On not sharing details of his divorce: “I’ll say this: the media was not invited to my marriage, and they’re definitely not invited into the divorce. Anyone who gets divorced goes through a lot of pain, but you come out of it. I’m not out of it yet. At all. But I sense that as I do come through it, there’s optimism. How can there not be? I don’t think I want to get married again, but you always reevaluate these things. Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up. I gotta say, I’m a different person than I was six months ago.” - Ryan Reynolds, Interview in Details
I was struck by how genuinely he expressed his emotions. Whereas he answered other questions flippantly, his comments about coming through and being optimistic could have been said by me. I too am on the fence about remarriage and, like Ryan, the divorce woke me up and turned me into a different person. Smart young man. I think he will land on his feet.

Image @Details magazine


Broken Foot, Single & Divorced

Living alone in a house meant for a family, one with four bedrooms, three baths, and a yard, is not easy for a single person. Unlearning years of habits, in which one's spouse played an integral part, is painful. One's automatic expectations kick in. At first, just after the separation, the continual shocks one feels are surprising and come at the most unexpected moments. Your automatic greeting, "Honey, I'm home," is met with silence. The garbage doesn't get picked up during the first week, since that was your spouse's job. Even the side of the bed you sleep in largely comes out of habit. (After two months, I moved to the side closest to the bathroom and bedroom door, which felt strange and somehow disloyal at first.)

After a while you develop new habits. This takes time.

I've found ways to cope with my single state and large house. I can't sell it for what it is worth, or find a more affordable place, so I am putting up with its size for economic reasons. James comes once a week to mow my yard for $20. That low price is as a result of my having planted ground cover over much of my front and back yards, leaving only a few patches of grass. I've rented out the downstairs walk out basement (with kitchenette, which I had installed and separate door entrance), to a young man, who can help carry heavy loads. I've converted my largest guest room into an office/entertainment room, where I spend most of my time. The formal areas remain largely unused and are ready at a minute's notice for guests.

But now I have broken my foot in two places. The doctor says the bones will take 3-4 months to heal, which means that I cannot walk my dog or clean my house as I would like to. My renter, Gary, has been marvelous, walking my pooch 3 times a day, but he is gone for the weekend. Yesterday, a neighbor kindly walked my dog at 2 PM, and a friend made dinner, cleaned my kitchen, and took out the garbage. Another one will come over at 12 PM to walk my pup, who is confused and restless, for he is accustomed to being walked four or five times per day.

I am fencing in a larger area of my yard, so that my little terrier can run to his heart's delight. Tomorrow I will make arrangements to work from home, for I must keep my foot elevated for at least a full week and try to stay off it for a month.

After my divorce, I thought learning to live alone again was challenging. I came at first to accept it and then to like it. Now, living such a long distance from my closest relatives, I realize how vulnerable we single, older people are. It becomes tiring always depending on others to fill the gap that a spouse once filled.

I went grocery shopping in an electric cart. (ME! Who was walking an hour a day!) And then there are the practical decisions. Who will vacuum, dust, and scrub the bathrooms? for I let my once-a-month cleaning lady go due to finances. Who will do the groceries? for yesterday's excursion caused my foot to swell. Who will be willing to take my dog out 3-4 times per day, every day, until my fence is up? I am cobbling together an army of volunteers and making lists, but 3-4 months is a long time to depend on the kindness of friends, neighbors, and one's very busy renter.

More and more I understand the attraction of marriage, and why so many people are tempted to remarry soon after their divorce. Learning to live with a partner's quirks seems a tad easier than the gargantuan tasks I face this summer. (Although, I know I am wrong. My foot will heal, but a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime.)

I'll take it one step at a time. (No pun intended.) Yesterday I got a handicap tag for my car, and I'll work on getting a doggie fence next. All I can say is about this new development is:"Aaargh!"


Wedding Bell Blues

Royal Wedding tea bags
The first few years after my divorce I could not attend a wedding without crying and feeling cynical at the same time. There I was, in my early fifties, after the dissolution of a 26-year marriage and 32-year friendship, watching a young couple pledging "'Till death do us part." Hah! I would think. Wait until reality sets in.

People with worse marriages than mine were still married. At the time he left, my husband was looking for something new and different. His sister had just married her third husband, and his brother his third wife. I was married for life, but he was looking for ways to extend the excitement in our marriage. He wanted to re-experience the fresh, tender feelings that his siblings and their new spouses were exhibiting. At first he lost weight, bought a motorcycle, purchased a van for his bikes and drove it cross country, took a sabbatical in New Zealand, etc. But nothing would stop the progress of his aging, including his graying wife.And so he started to look at me with jaundiced eyes, until nothing I did was right.

With that experience in mind, I would watch a marriage ceremony with a cynicism that, had the young couple known of my doubts, they would never have invited me.

Time has a strange way of healing. The process is slow and uneven. Although this vestige of bitterness stayed with me for a long time, I knew I had changed when I became caught up in the Wills and Kate Royal Wedding hoopla. I won't be watching the ceremony live, for I will be working. But my cynicism has largely gone. I hope this young couple will find a lifetime of wedded bliss in their gilded fish bowl. Heaven only knows how, but QE2 and Prince Phillip managed to do so.


Stressed and No Way Out

Post divorce-copalypse. That's been my experience this past year. It's been over ten years since my divorce and I thought I was coping. There were times a year and a half ago when I was feeling strong within my self and on top of my finances. Then the economy hit bottom and my pay check was frozen. Prices started to rise. I needed a new car. The roof, which had just been replaced, was leaking. That is when I discovered that the roofers had chiseled me, for they used substandard materials and failed to follow code. So I coughed up my savings for a second new roof in four years, which also leaked. I then borrowed money to fix this problem.

Now I am living from paycheck to paycheck. But, wait! I have a job. Yes, I am grateful that I am one of the working stiffs. But for how long? I am no longer the fast, multi-tasker I once was. With no new staff and many jumping ship because of the pressure, we are still required to provide as many services as before, if not more. The work keeps piling up.

I've never worked so hard for so little personal satisfaction. This is the 4th weekend in 7 that I've worked just to keep up. I was supposed to take time off - but I spent the half day on Friday working instead. I also worked on Saturday. Today is Easter and my new car wouldn't start. So instead of visiting family, I am all dressed up and home alone.

Given the terrible situation in Japan and the deaths in Syria, my troubles are paltry. But the truth is that I feel a constant tightness in my chest, I am eating for comfort and have gained weight, and I see no pleasure in my days off, since I spend them recovering my energy for the next week's onslaught. I am also deathly afraid of losing my job, for I know the chances of finding another one at my age with a good salary are slim to none.

How did I lose control of my life so quickly? Sometimes I think wistfully back on the days when I had a mate who would shoulder half the house and yard tasks, when I had someone to play and laugh with in bed, when life was hard work, yes, but also offered moments of leisure with friends, trips to the lake, and vacations to exotic places.

I've tried working just from 9 - 5:30. But that tactic put me farther and farther behind, to the point where I can catch up only if I work nights and weekends. I called a good friend this morning after my car wouldn't start and burst into tears. He didn't know what to say. I knew then that I had reached the end of my rope.

I'm going to try doing something I haven't done in a long time - and that is to chill out, read a book, and sit and do nothing but listen to the birds. Their spring voices are so lovely.

Besides, this is the only vacation I can grab. Does anyone else out there feeling stressed? What are some of your solutions?

Hint: If you are a single woman of a certain age, the best yearly investment is an AAA membership. This investment has reaped more benefits than I can count and has given me peace of mind. From flat tires, locked in keys, towing, and battery problems, Triple A has come to my rescue at least twice a year.

Image: The Scream @Wikimedia Commons